Erection Creams – the Good the Bad and the UglyErection creams vary wildly in quality, origin, and what they deliver, with some at the “snake oil” end of erectile dysfunction remedies category, through to those which contain approved pharmaceuticals which have undergone scientific testing to substantiate the claims they make.
Some erection creams are available without prescription – but they may contain undeclared drugs, or prohibited ingredients like the West African herb yohimbe which is illegal for use in Australia – while others are only available with a doctor’s prescription and are made to order in a consulting pharmacy.
Coming through the middle of the erection cream market are some erection creams containing a new amino acid L-arginine, which has some claims to scientifically proven benefits as an erectile dysfunction aid, although some of the evidence in support of L-arginine’s claims comes from use as an oral supplement rather than as a topically applied cream.
Non Pharmaceutical Erection CreamsThese erection creams may be water, oil or silicone based and contain a wide variety of ingredients, and may have undesirable side effects like skin irritation, or cause bacterial or yeast infections depending on what the creams, gels or oils contain.
Many contain yohimbe which is not approved for use in Australia because of dangerous side effects associated with the herb. As yohimbe is not approved as a listed herb in the Australian Government’s Therapeutic Goods Act, it cannot legally be included in erection creams sold within Australia.
This is because yohimbe can cause side effects such as nausea, anxiety attacks and seizures. It is recommended to be avoided by people with low blood pressure (hypotension), heart disease, and diabetes.
Erection Creams Containing L-ArginineL-arginine is approved for topical use in Australia, but not as a dietary supplement, so erection creams with this ingredient are allowed. However most of the research conducted on L-arginine for erectile dysfunction tested it as a dietary supplement which was taken orally, not as an erection cream.
The Mayo Clinic reports that while early evidence suggests that because L-arginine is a chemical precursor to nitric oxide (a gas which widens blood vessels) it may help treat health conditions that improve with better blood flow, including erectile dysfunction, the early trials used a combination of ingredients including yohimbe hydrochloride. Whether it would be effective alone, or when it is topically applied, could not be known from the results.
Some of the erection creams available on the web containing L-arginine include maxoderm and erexanol and Ignite Intimate Gel, which is a sexual health gel containing L-arginine which enhances response for both men and women and is used in conjunction with Herbal Ignite capsules for erectile dysfunction.
Erection creams (and gels) under the brand names of TriMix, (a gel) Befar, Vitaros (creams) and others contain the drugs used in erectile injections – either alprostadil, or a combination of alprostadil with phentolamine and papaverine.
Pharmaceutical Erection Creams
These have been developed for men who have failed to get a good response from erectile dysfunction drugs known as PDE-5 inhibitors – including Viagra, Levitra and Cialis.
Some feedback from men on web forums who have used both the injectable and gel form of alprostadil indicates the gel is not as effective as the injection, and some men who get an erection with the injection fail to respond with the gel.
Befar and Vitaros Erection CreamsAlprostadil is a PDE1 inhibitor which relaxes smooth muscle cells in the penile wall and so increases blood flow to the penis. PDE1 has been commercially available as injections under the brand names Caverject and Edex for at least a decade so the active ingredient is not new.
The benefits claimed for PDE1 creams are that they are
- Easy to apply
- Work within 5 to 15 minutes.
However they are temperature sensitive and need to be kept refrigerated.
Although there were some side effects like a “burning sensation” for a small number of men, initial reports indicated Vitaros had fewer side effects that the PDE-5 inhibitor drugs and could be used by many men who could not take the erection drugs.
Befar and Vitaros erection creams are available different parts of the world. Apricus Bio, the company behind Vitaros, announced in May 2012 that it was registering or had registered patents in New Zealand and Australia and planned to grant exclusive rights to its formulations in these territories.
Befar is currently only available in Asia. It is also based on alprostadil, claims to work within 10 to 15 minutes and lasts for four hours. Side effects include mild urethral pain, a feeling of urethral burning, penile fullness and redness at the application site.
Most of the adverse events were mild and transient and all naturally resolved in a short time. Befar may also be helpful to women for sexual enhancement and improved sexual response, initial research indicates.
A possible drawback is that the creams containing alprostadil appear to be temperature sensitive and need to be kept refrigerated at between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius. The active ingredient is destroyed by even a few minutes of exposure above 25 degrees Celsius and so storage and transport require special conditions.